Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fresh Anchovies in Salsa Verde

I'm one of these strange people that absolutely love anchovies - well I should include a proviso that I love good quality anchovies as not all canned varieties are equal. I can happily devour these without a second thought.

So it's no surprise that I was physically and not just literally stopped in my tracks when I spied these fresh local anchovies at the fishmonger.

fresh anchovies© by Haalo

I've only ever seen them once before and I regret not buying them so this time I wasn't going to let the opportunity pass me by. So before you could say anchovy, they were in my possession and I was heading home a very happy camper.

Now, the fun begins, what should I do with them? Since preparing them is a bit of a fiddle, the recipe needed to be simple and the solution was to marinade them in a flavoursome salsa verde. The end product just perfect as a topping for bruschetta.

fresh anchovies in salsa verde© by Haalo

Fresh Anchovies in Salsa Verde

fresh anchovies
fresh parsley leaves
lemon zest
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground white pepper

Prepare the anchovies:

There's no two ways about it - it's going to be a bit bloody and a bit messy but if you do it in a systematic matter it isn't that difficult.

You take an anchovy and using a knife cut straight through just in from the head, near the gill. As you drag the head away, you should find that the internals come out with it. *I tend to do all the heads first before continuing with the process*

anchovy heads© by Haalo

Slice cleanly along the underside to butterfly the anchovy - you can brush away any remaining internals at this stage. Find the end of the severed spine and gently pull this away from the flesh, when you reach the tail a firm tug should see it completely separate.

There are recipes where the spine is used - it's simply cleaned and dried very well before being deep fried. It's eaten as a snack with drinks.

Once you have all the fillets cleaned, give them a very light rinse in cold water and place them on paper towels to dry.

Make the salsa verde:

This is really just something you make to suit your own taste so use this only as a guide.

I place a couple of good handfuls of fresh parsley leaves into a processor along with two cloves of garlic and process until roughly chopped. Add in a tablespoon of capers, a couple of diced cornichons and the zest of half a lemon and process until finely chopped, drizzle in good olive oil and continue to process until a thick paste forms. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Assemble the dish:

Take a ceramic dish that is large enough to hold the anchovies in layers. Spread some of the salsa verde on the bottom of the dish and arrange the anchovies on top, skin side down. Don't be tempted to place the anchovies too close together, a sparse covering is best. Cover this with some more of the salsa and continue with another layer of anchovies. Keep repeating this process until all the anchovies have been used and are completely buried under the salsa verde.

fresh anchovies in salsa verde© by Haalo

Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

To serve:

Take a spoonful of the mixture and place into a bowl - squeeze over with a little fresh lemon juice and stir to combine. Let this sit for a few minutes before placing on a slice on toasted ciabatta.

fresh anchovies in salsa verde© by Haalo


  1. Oh my, that looks amazing. Which fishmonger did you get the anchovies from?
    I'm jealous.

  2. Thanks Jess - Theo's in Prahran Market

  3. You are not alone, haalo. I love anchovies, too!

  4. I love anchovies and consider myself very lucky if I get them fresh!!! Brilliant combination...anchovies and salsa verdi!!!!

  5. Lovely photos. I cook fresh once by first pickling in lemon juice, olive oil, salt, chopped fresh chillies and grated garlic. Then I toss in flour/breadcrumbs and fry in a little bit of oil. With fresh french bread....amazing

  6. as my teen would say ...nom nom nom. great shot of the dismembered heads, love it.

  7. Yum! I'd gladly taste your dish. ;-)


  8. Thanks Anh!

    Thanks Nina - I haven't seen them since, looks like I was very lucky

    Thanks KB - sounds delicious!

    Thanks Kelly!

    Thanks Paz - i'd happily make you some!

  9. I had to stop by and tell you that your photos are absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing such a great, great post. You have an exceptional gift for photography.

    Casual Kitchen

  10. Yesterday, I purchased "fresh anchovies" from a local Asian fishmonger. These have no skin/scales on them, they are completely white, and they do have little black eyes!

    Not sure what to do with them...I LOVE anchovies, grew up eating them on bagels with cream cheese (poor man's lox?)

    Anyway, thought you could help!

  11. Thanks Dan, that is very kind of you.

    Hi Barbara - Hmm, could they be whitebait rather than anchovies? If they are whitebait, whitebait fritters is a great way to use them


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